Posts Tagged ‘manipulation’

Why Nobody Trades During Regular Hours Any More (And How Prop Funds Just Stop Trading When Volatility Spikes)

Why Nobody Trades During Regular Hours Any More (And How Prop Funds Just Stop Trading When Volatility Spikes)

HFTCourtesy of Tyler Durden at Zero Hedge 

For those who follow our periodic updates on intraday stock volume, today’s article by the Wall Street Journal which focuses on the dramatic decline in activity during regular working hours will come as no surprise. In a piece looking at prop trading shop Briargate (oh so witty anagram of arbitrage), founded by several former NYSE specialists, we learn that at least one firm (and likely many more) now no longer does any trading during the hours of 11 to 2. As this creates a feedback loop of inactivity, pretty soon the core of daily stock market activity will merely be the half an hour of action at the open, and the dark pool-ETF-open exchange rebalance at the very close, with everything inbetween deemed obsolete.

Of course, what this will do, is create even more volatility in trading, force an even greater decline in stock trading volumes (and pain for Wall Street firms), and a further divergence between stocks and fundamentals, as momentum trading gains an even more prominent role in determine "price discovery."

From the WSJ:

On the day the "flash crash" bludgeoned the stock market and chaos swept over the floor of the New York Stock Exchange, the founders of Briargate Trading were at the movies.

Rick Oscher and Steven Rubinstein weren’t playing hooky. Briargate, a proprietary-trading firm that the two former NYSE floor "specialist" traders started in 2008, is mostly active at the stock market’s open and close.

In between, when market activity typically drops, the Wall Street veterans play tennis in Central Park, take leisurely lunches, visit their children’s schools and work out at the gym. Dress shoes have been replaced with flip-flops, slacks with cargo shorts. Once during market hours, they walked about five miles and crossed the Brooklyn Bridge to try Grimaldi’s pizza.

"We actually planned on working a full day," says Mr. Oscher, wearing a white polo shirt and blue-plaid shorts. "But from 11 to 2, the markets are pretty quiet—what’s the point? As a specialist, you have to stand in your spot all day and we did that for 20 years."

Briargate—an anagram of "arbitrage"—isn’t the only firm taking an extended recess during the 6½-hour U.S. trading day. Trading has become increasingly concentrated in the


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Non Farm Payrolls: The Devil Is In the Adjustments

Non Farm Payrolls: The Devil Is In the Adjustments

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

When the US government announced a ‘better than expected’ headline growth number in its non farm payrolls report for August, a loss of ‘only’ 54,000 jobs versus a forecasted loss of 120,000 jobs, people had to wonder, ‘How do they do it? We do not see any of this growth and recovery in our day to day activity.’

Here’s one way that those reporting the numbers can ‘tinker’ with them to produce the desired results.

As you may recall, there is often a very large difference between the raw, unadjusted payroll number and the adjusted number. Seasonality plays the largest role, although there can occasionally be special circumstances. Since this is designed to be a simple example I am going to lump all the various adjustments that could be and call them the ‘seasonality factor’ since it is most usual and signficant.

Here is a chart showing the unadjusted and the adjusted numbers. As you can see, a seasonal adjustment can legitimately normalize the numbers for the use of planners and forecasters. This is a common function in businesses affected by seasonal changes. Year over year growth rates, rather than linear, comparisons, can also serve a similar function.

Quite a variance in numbers that are very large.

Since it probably is in the back of your mind, let’s address the infamous "Birth Deal Model" now, which I have advised may not be such a significant factor as you might imagine. This is an ‘estimate’ of new jobs created by small businesses. A comparison of the last few years demonstrates rather easily that this number is what is called ‘a plug.’

How can the growth of jobs from small business not been significantly impacted by one of the greatest financial collapses in modern economic history?

Certainly the Birth Death model offers room for statistical mischief. It is important to remember that it is added to the RAW number before seasonal adjustment, and that number has huge variances. So the effect of Birth Death is mitigated by the adjustment for seasonality. If it were added to the Seasonal number from which ‘headline growth’ is derived it would be a huge factor. But it is not the case, although the timing of the significant annual adjustments and additions is highly cynical, and supportive of number inflation.…
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SP Futures and Gold Daily Charts at 2:30 PM EDT: Smoke and Mirrors

SP Futures and Gold Daily Charts at 2:30 PM EDT: Smoke and Mirrors

Courtesy of JESSE’S CAFÉ AMÉRICAIN

The spike in the overnight futures based on the vague assurances from China to revalue the yuan higher, a strictly political move to pre-empt the discussion at the upcoming G20 meeting, was a way to justify a classic ‘wash and rinse’ in the price, and bring in some coin for the needy Wall Street banks.

This is the method by which the moral hazard of bailing out the Too Big Banks has provoked the unintended consequence of strangling the economy and the very markets which the bailouts were intended to save (at least on the storyboard). They are unable to make their expected outsized returns using conventional business means, so they must resort to soft control frauds, generating market inefficiencies to support their unsustainable existance. They ought to have been broken up and liquidated where necessary. 

As I suggested last night, the spike higher was utterly artificial, and worth fading to the short side. But while it stays above the trendline now around 1110 I would not lean on it too hard, since the threat of a snapback rally in the last hour is always there on these thin volumes. If it breaks down, we are probably heading down to the 1060 support in a roundabout way.

There is also an FOMC rate decision coming up on the 23rd, Wednesday, so we will see some artificial action around that. It is also the day that GTU closes its shelf offering which should take some of the pressure off the unit price.

As a reminder this is the option expiration week (June 24th) for gold and silver July contracts at the COMEX. Even so, the pullback in the price of gold is well within the range of the handle. Short term it is relatively easy to manipulate the price within a certain range of the primary trend, given the current state of regulatory capture at the CFTC. At some point the primary trend will take a much steeper slope as we head towards a commercial failure to deliver. But no one can accuse the people in New York and Washington of long term thinking when there are short term profits to be made, and campaign contributions to be pocketed.


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Stocks Freak Out Again: 130 Point Move In Dow In 15 Minutes On No Volume

Stocks Freak Out Again: 130 Point Move In Dow In 15 Minutes On No Volume

Courtesy of Tyler Durden

Once again, we get to see just how broken our stock market is, one which takes no prisoners, and will trample over everyone and everything as the Primary Dealers use your own money against you to shake every single person out. A 130 point move in the Dow in the matter of minutes on no volume is about all you need to know to lose all confidence in stocks, and call up TD Ameritrade and close your account (you won’t be allowed to trade when the market is crashing anyway). Good thing we had a fake rumor in the morning to prevent an all out rout into Friday with the Dow looking to open well into 9000. Additionally, with credit not moving, and obviously not buying this move, there is nobody left who can claim the market is anything even remotely resembling orderly, efficient or fair. SkyNet is again rising.

 


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Manipulating Gold and Silver: A Criminal Naked Short Position that Could Wreck the Economy

Manipulating Gold and Silver: A Criminal Naked Short Position that Could Wreck the Economy

Courtesy of Mark Mitchell at Deep Capture 

Close-up of traditional puppets, Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Everyone from U.S. Senators to prominent hedge fund managers say that criminal naked short sellers had a hand in the financial collapse of 2008, but the regulators aren’t listening. Not a single criminal has been prosecuted. Indeed, the regulators continue to allow the miscreants to manipulate the markets — not just the stock markets, but also the markets for corporate bonds, derivatives, U.S. Treasuries, and all manner of commodities – even when the regulators are provided with indisputable evidence of a massive crime in progress. They could easily fix the flaws in the settlement system that allow much of the manipulation to occur, but they refrain from doing so either because they are too captured by the miscreants or too cowed by the possible consequences of throwing the lights on what may be an enormous confidence game.

So I am inclined to say that it is hopeless. Everyone loves an optimist – but, yes, it is hopeless. We are like the audience in one of those cheesy horror flicks – yell and scream all you like, but the dumb blonde is still going to walk into that room and get hacked to pieces. Except that it is not a movie. It is real. And it’s not just the dumb blonde who is going to get slaughtered. It is all of us. It is our economy. It is our standard of living. It is our financial system – the lifeblood of the nation.

The latest case of regulatory indolence was recently exposed by Andrew Maguire, a successful metals trader and whistleblower who went to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission with data that strongly suggested that a small number of criminal short sellers had rigged the markets for silver and gold. Maguire not only provided the regulators with a Dummies’ guide to how the manipulation generally worked, but also warned them of a specific crime – a dramatic take-down of the gold and silver markets – that he said would occur at an exact time on a specific date in the near future. That is, Maguire told the regulators that a massive crime was about to happen, and the crime happened precisely as he predicted it would.

With Maguire’s warning, the regulators…
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Silver Short Squeeze Could Be Imminent

Interesting press release from the National Inflation Association about Silver price manipulation. 

Silver Short Squeeze Could Be Imminent

Close-up of Indian silver coins

FORT LEE, N.J., April 3 /PRNewswire/ — The National Inflation Association today issued a silver update to its http://inflation.us/ members:

On December 11th, 2009 NIA declared silver the best investment for the next decade. In our December 11th article, we said that it wasn’t a coincidence that the very day Bear Stearns failed was the same day silver reached its multi-decade high of over $21 per ounce. We went on to say, "The reason why we believe the Federal Reserve was so eager to orchestrate a bailout of Bear Stearns, is because Bear Stearns was on the verge of being forced to cover their silver short position."

JP Morgan took over the concentrated short position in silver from Bear Stearns and gained complete control over the paper price of silver. Within weeks, JP Morgan was able to manipulate the price of silver down to below $9 per ounce. NIA believes they were able to drive the price of silver down through "naked short selling," selling paper silver that is unbacked by physical silver.

On February 5th, we witnessed another sharp decline in silver prices, which NIA described on February 7th as being "just a temporary wash out, before a huge surge in silver prices later in 2010." Since then, silver prices have rebounded by 18%. The temporary wash out that occurred on February 5th was predicted by independent metals trader Andrew Maguire, who came out this week exposing the fraud that is taking place in the paper silver market.

On February 3rd, Andrew Maguire wrote Eliud Ramirez, a senior investigator for the CFTC’s Enforcement Division, giving him the "heads up" for a "manipulative event" signaled for February 5th. He warned the CFTC that JP Morgan was about to manipulate down the price of silver after the release of non-farm payroll data on February 5th.…
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Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation

Why We are Susceptible to Manipulation

Times Square Collage

Courtesy of Washington’s Blog 

Biologists and sociologists tell us that our brains evolved in small groups or tribes.

As one example of how profoundly the small-group environment affected our brains, Daily Galaxy points out:

Research shows that one of the most powerful ways to stimulate more buying is celebrity endorsement. Neurologists at Erasmus University in Rotterdam report that our ability to weigh desirability and value doesn’t function normally if an item is endorsed by a well-known face. This lights up the brain’s dorsal claudate nucleus, which is involved in trust and learning. Areas linked to longer-term memory storage also fire up. Our minds overidentify with celebrities because we evolved in small tribes. If you knew someone, then they knew you. If you didn’t attack each other, you were probably pals.

Our minds still work this way, giving us the idea that the celebs we keep seeing are our acquaintances. And we want to be like them, because we’ve evolved to hate being out of the in-crowd. Brain scans show that social rejection activates brain areas that generate physical pain, probably because in prehistory tribal exclusion was tantamount to a death sentence. And scans by the National Institute of Mental Health show that when we feel socially inferior, two brain regions become more active: the insula and the ventral striatum. The insula is involved with the gut-sinking sensation you get when you feel that small. The ventral striatum is linked to motivation and reward. 

In small groups, we knew everyone extremely well. No one could really fool us about what type of person they were, because we had grown up interacting with them for our whole lives.

If a tribe member dressed up and pretended he was from another tribe, we would see it in a heart-beat. It would be like seeing your father in a costume: you would recognize him pretty quickly, wouldn’t you.

As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern society when we incorrectly ascribe to them the role of being someone we should trust.

As the celebrity example shows, our brains can easily be fooled by people in our large modern…
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Personal correspondence with Phil regarding how oil speculation affects oil prices.

Personal correspondence with Phil regarding how oil speculation affects oil prices.

Man moving drums in warehouse with forklift

Phil to Ilene:

This is a complicated issue as it’s not just the act of creating a contract.

Let’s say there are 100,000 barrels of oil in the world and 10 are sold each day and they are shipped from various places in various amounts but generally there are, at any given time, 30 days of oil at sea (300 barrels).  If I am taking straight delivery, I would contract with the producers to deliver me 1 barrel of oil per day for a year or 5 years or whatever for $50 a barrel.  My interest is to have a steady supply and the producers interest is to have a steady demand.  He wants to charge as much as possible, I want to pay as little as possible.

Enter the speculators.  Rather than me (the actual user) haggling with the producer directly (as is done in most business transactions), the speculator steps in and offers to buy as much oil as the guy can produce for $40.  I can’t do that because I only need one barrel a day but if the guy can make 1.3 or 1.6 barrels a day or he can add a new pump and make 2 barrels a day, knowing he has a buyer at $40, he will be thrilled (assuming the profits work selling 2Bpd at $80 vs 1Bpd at $50).
In a perfect world, the speculator is simply taking on some risk and will make the difference between the $40 they are paying and the $50 I am willing to pay and they will sell the excess for $40-50 and make a nice overall profit.

But then the speculators get greedy.  They know I NEED 1 barrel per day and perhaps there was some seasonality to pricing or natural fluctuation but all the speculator has to do is wait for the price to rise and then hold it there.  If supply is uneven, they can divert some to storage.  They are still buying it, creating demand but they are not delivering it so there is suddenly a “shortage” where none existed before.   As they accumulate more barrels in storage (say 100) they realize that getting the price up to $60 makes them not only $10 a day more per barrel they sell me,…
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A Reader Asks “How Did 558,000 People Lose Their Jobs When Only 190,000 Jobs Were Lost?”

A Reader Asks "How Did 558,000 People Lose Their Jobs When Only 190,000 Jobs Were Lost?"

Courtesy of Jesse’s Café Américain

Obama Here is an excerpt from today’s Bureau of Labor Statistics Non-farm Payrolls report.

"The unemployment rate rose from 9.8 to 10.2 percent in October, and nonfarm payroll employment continued to decline (-190,000), the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported today. The largest job losses over the month were in construction, manufacturing, and retail trade.

Household Survey Data

In October, the number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000 to 15.7 million. The unemployment rate rose by 0.4 percentage point to 10.2 percent, the highest rate since April 1983. Since the start of the recession in December 2007, the number of unemployed persons has risen by 8.2 million, and the unemployment rate has grown by 5.3 percentage points…

The civilian labor force participation rate was little changed over the month at 65.1 percent. The employment-population ratio continued to decline in October, falling to 58.5 percent."

An astute reader noticed that the BLS press release says that 190,000 jobs were lost from payroll employment, but the number of unemployed persons increased by 558,000. What’s up with that?

The BLS report consists of two independent data samples. BLS has two monthly surveys that measure employment levels and trends: the Current Population Survey (CPS), also known as the household survey, and the Current Employment Statistics (CES) survey, also known as the payroll or establishment survey.

There is the "Establishment Survey" which is based on responses from a sample of about 400,000 business establishments, about one-third of total nonfarm payroll employment. The headline payroll number, the job loss of 190,000, is based on this data.

Then there is the "Household Survey" which is a statistical survey of more than 50,000 households with regard to the employment circumstances of their members, which is then applied to the estimates of the US population to obtain the unemployment number. This survey was started in the 1950′s and is conducted by the Census Bureau with the data being provided to BLS. It is from the household survey that more detailed information is obtained about employment statistics within population groups like gender and age, wages, and hours worked. It is this study that is responsible for the unemployment rate of 10.2%.

So which survey is correct? Neither. The truth is somewhere


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Wonderland Markets: Part I and II

Here’s the long answer to a question regarding Phil’s thoughts on which way the market is going. – Ilene

Wonderland Market 

The Queen of Hearts, 1999 (oil on canvas)

By Phil at Phil’s Stock World (in comments)  

Market direction – Interesting that this is what’s on your minds as it’s what’s on my mind too.   What is real and what is not?  Keep in mind that when the market was down 50% in March, that was not real either.  You can go back and read all my posts back then, but the gist of my arguement was, short of annihilating a good portion of the global population, the global GDP is very unlikely to fall below $40Tn (down 20%) so anything beyond that is, by definition, an overreaction. 

On the other hand, the run up to S&P 1,500 was itself overdone as we can’t just keep expanding insanely forever (outside of inflationary expansion).  There’s an interesting article in Scientific American this week asking if current economic assumptions inherently violate the laws of physics, something I used to rant about back in ‘07 but got bored with as the market went up and up anyway – despite my efforts to talk sense to it…  Oddly the chairman at Utah State is feeling my pain already, saying: ""Of course I’m trying to send a message - I just don’t expect there’s anyone out there to receive it." 

So we have a low that was too low coming off a high that was too high.  We have MASSIVE government stimulus and I not only don’t use the word MASSIVE lightly but MASSIVE is wholly inadequate to describe the level of stimulus in comparison to anything that has ever happened in the history of the world.  We have a runaway global money supply, the worst global unemployment since the great depression (and that didn’t end in 12 months you know) and pretend shortages of commodities, which is usually something that ENDS expansion, not kicks it off.  We have a dellusional population where 60% of the people surveyed believe their home prices have appreciated over the past 12 months while anyone who read this week’s housing reports can see that there is virtually not a single zip code in the united states that hasn’t lost 10%…

To say the media is uncritical is like saying my mom doesn’t think I suck.  This is not surprising when you consider…
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Phil's Favorites

How to make fragile global supply chains stronger and more sustainable

 

How to make fragile global supply chains stronger and more sustainable

Shipping containers are moved from the Fairview Cove Container Terminal In Halifax in May 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

Courtesy off Adel Guitouni, University of Victoria; Cynthia Waltho, University of Victoria, and Mohammadreza Nematollahi, University of Victoria

...

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Digital Currencies

Ethereum: the transformation that could see it overtake bitcoin

 

Ethereum: the transformation that could see it overtake bitcoin

The crypto wars are hotting up. Wit Olszewski

Courtesy of Daniel Broby, University of Strathclyde

The world’s second most valuable cryptocurrency, ether, has been touching all-time highs in price ahead of a major upgrade of its underlying platform, ethereum. Ether is currently worth in aggregate just shy of US$500 billion (£363 billion). That’s still slightly less than half that of the biggest cryptocurrency, bitcoin.

...

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Zero Hedge

Another Massive Short Squeeze Leads To Spectacular 5Y Auction

Courtesy of ZeroHedge View original post here.

Similar to yesterday's stellar 2Y auction, which many were worried would see a drop in demand only to be silenced by the burst in demand due to a furious scramble for physical paper on the back of a record front-end short (which we previewed earlier in the week), so a quick look at just how special the 5Y TSY had become ahead of today&...



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Politics

Trump wants the National Archives to keep his papers away from investigators - post-Watergate laws and executive orders may not let him

 

Trump wants the National Archives to keep his papers away from investigators – post-Watergate laws and executive orders may not let him

Nixon resigned after tapes he had fought making public incriminated him in the Watergate coverup. Bettmann/Getty

Courtesy of Shannon Bow O'Brien, The University of Texas at Austin College of Liberal Arts

The National Archives is the United States’ memory, a repository of artifacts that includes everything from half-fo...



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Biotech/COVID-19

An infectious disease expert explains new federal rules on 'mix-and-match' vaccine booster shots

 

An infectious disease expert explains new federal rules on ‘mix-and-match’ vaccine booster shots

Discuss with your doctor whether or not you need a booster – and if so, which vaccine will work best for you. Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News via Getty Images

Courtesy of Glenn J. Rapsinski, University of Pittsburgh Health Sciences

Many Americans now have the green light to get a COVID-19 vaccine booster – and the flexibility to receive a different brand than the ori...



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Chart School

Price and Volume Swing Analysis on Bitcoin and Silver

Courtesy of Read the Ticker

Many take guidance from news, pundits or advisors. Well sometimes the swings of price and volume are a better measure of what happens next.

The big boys do not accumulate or distribute in single 1 second trade, they build positions over weeks, months and years. They use price swings in the market to build or reduce positions, and you can see their intent by studying swings of price and volume and applying Tim Ord logic as written in his book called 'The Secret Science of Price and Volume: Techniques for Spotting Market Trends, Hot Sectors, and the Best Stocks'.

Tim Ord is a follower of Richard Wyckoff logic, his book has added to the studies of Richard Wyckoff, Richard Ney and Bob Evans.

Richard Wyckoff after years of...

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Promotions

Phil's Interview on Options Trading with TD Bank

TD Bank's host Bryan Rogers interviewed Phil on June 10 as part of TD's Options Education Month. If you missed the program, be sure to watch the video below. It should be required viewing for anyone trading or thinking about trading using options. 

Watch here:

TD's webinar with Phil (link) or right here at PSW

Screenshots of TD's slides illustrating Phil's examples:

 

 

&n...



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Kimble Charting Solutions

Crude Oil Cleared For Blast Off On This Dual Breakout?

Courtesy of Chris Kimble

Is Crude Oil about to blast off and hit much higher prices? It might be worth being aware of what could be taking place this month in this important commodity!

Crude Oil has created lower highs over the past 13-years, since peaking back in 2008, along line (1).

It created a “Double Top at (2), then it proceeded to decline more than 60% in four months.

The countertrend rally in Crude Oil has it attempting to break above its 13-year falling resistance as well as its double top at (3).

A successful breakout at (3) would suggest Crude Oil is about to mo...



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ValueWalk

Managing Investments As A Charity Or Nonprofit

By Anna Peel. Originally published at ValueWalk.

Maintaining financial viability is a constant challenge for charities and nonprofit organizations.

Q4 2020 hedge fund letters, conferences and more

The past year has underscored that challenge. The pandemic has not just affected investment returns – it’s also had serious implications for charitable activities and the ability to fundraise. For some organizations, it’s even raised doubts about whether they can continue to operate.

Finding ways to generate long-term, sustainable returns for ...



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Mapping The Market

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

 

Suez Canal: Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

Courtesy of Marcus Lu, Visual Capitalist

The Suez Canal: A Critical Waterway Comes to a Halt

On March 23, 2021, a massive ship named Ever Given became lodged in the Suez Canal, completely blocking traffic in both directions. According to the Suez Canal Authority, the 1,312 foot long (400 m) container ship ran aground during a sandstorm that caused low visibility, impacting the ship’s navigation. The vessel is owned by Taiwanese shipping firm, Evergreen Marine.

With over 2...



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The Technical Traders

Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling System Suggests Market Peak May Be Near

Courtesy of Technical Traders

Our Adaptive Fibonacci Price Modeling system is suggesting a moderate price peak may be already setting up in the NASDAQ while the Dow Jones, S&P500, and Transportation Index continue to rally beyond the projected Fibonacci Price Expansion Levels.  This indicates that capital may be shifting away from the already lofty Technology sector and into Basic Materials, Financials, Energy, Consumer Staples, Utilities, as well as other sectors.

This type of a structural market shift indicates a move away from speculation and towards Blue Chip returns. It suggests traders and investors are expecting the US consumer to come back strong (or at least hold up the market at...



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Lee's Free Thinking

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia - The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

 

Texas, Florida, Arizona, Georgia – The Branch COVIDIANS Are Still Burning Down the House

Courtesy of Lee Adler, WallStreetExaminer 

The numbers of new cases in some of the hardest hit COVID19 states have started to plateau, or even decline, over the past few days. A few pundits have noted it and concluded that it was a hopeful sign. 

Is it real or is something else going on? Like a restriction in the numbers of tests, or simply the inability to test enough, or are some people simply giving up on getting tested? Because as we all know from our dear leader, the less testing, the less...



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Insider Scoop

Economic Data Scheduled For Friday

Courtesy of Benzinga

  • Data on nonfarm payrolls and unemployment rate for March will be released at 8:30 a.m. ET.
  • US Services Purchasing Managers' Index for March is scheduled for release at 9:45 a.m. ET.
  • The ISM's non-manufacturing index for March will be released at 10:00 a.m. ET.
  • The Baker Hughes North American rig count report for the latest week is scheduled for release at 1:00 p.m. ET.
...

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About Phil:

Philip R. Davis is a founder Phil's Stock World, a stock and options trading site that teaches the art of options trading to newcomers and devises advanced strategies for expert traders...

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About Ilene:

Ilene is editor and affiliate program coordinator for PSW. Contact Ilene to learn about our affiliate and content sharing programs.